Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hell and the Resurrection

Today after the second service, someone actually told me "You just preached one Hell of a sermon." He meant that, but he was partially joking too since my sermon was on Hell. An Easter sermon, on Hell?? Yes, indeed. Here's the abstract from today's sermon. (it will be hard to condense this, but I'll try)

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important thing for every single person on the planet to not only know about, but to see as absolutely necessary and important. Why? Because the resurrection is the only thing standing between us, and an eternity in Hell. A lot of people don't take Hell seriously, but it's a reality, and it's no joke. People are on a path right now in their lives, and it's either a path of turning towards God and asking forgiveness for their sins - this path leads to Heaven; or they're on a path of turning down God and wanting nothing to do with Him, and that path leads to Hell.

What is Hell? Hell is a place of eternal torment for the impenitent (those who choose to be without God). Going by Scriptural descriptions, it is a place of fire, destruction, and is referred to as the outer darkness. A lot of people joke around and say they might be going to Hell but it will be okay since they'll be with their buddies - it will be a party! There is no together in Hell. It's a place of isolation, disintegration, and absolute darkness. You are 100% alone. You can't see or hear anyone or anything, and you are removed from God's presence and thus your soul is ruined and rots for eternity, without any connection to God. The use of fire in the Bible is largely metaphor - but only because they couldn't put into human terms the horrors of Hell, so fire and burning was the closest they could come to describing the eternal torment that's there.

But wait, if Hell is all that, then what about the concept of a loving God? A "loving" God wouldn't create a place that horrible would He? Why would He play favorites and send some people to be punished and not others? Is He really as loving as we think He is?

Well, the Bible says God didn't create Hell for people, but for Satan and his demons. See, they decided they wanted nothing to do with God, so He created a place where He was not - where they would spend eternity. But people have free will and are able to choose what they want to do with their lives too. And for the people who choose to be without God, He has created a place to honor that decision. Hell is simply a place where God is not. The gates of Hell close from the inside. You have shut God out, and in eternity, when He finally separates your soul from all influence from Him, you will just continually rot away in torment - being away from His presence. God doesn't send people to Hell, they choose to go.

Romans 3:10-12 says, "There is no one righteous, not even one...there is no one who seeks God." See, Hell is the place where God's wrath is poured out for all the sins committed throughout time. We all deserve to go to Hell and suffer that wrath. But John 3:17 says that Jesus didn't come to the world to condemn it, but to save it through Him. And 2 Peter 3:9 says that the Lord doesn't wish any should perish but that all would come to repentance and be saved. God has created this place, but He doesn't want you to end up there. That's why He sent Jesus to earth, to die on the cross and be resurrected. Jesus was without sin, innocent. He took all the wrath that God had for us and our sins and He bore it Himself, through extreme suffering and even death. Why? So we wouldn't have to go to Hell. So we could instead spend eternity with Him.

Understanding Hell is necessary for us to understand and know the love of God. Until you know how much He paid, you don't know whether to shake His hand, or fall down at His feet. Jesus spoke more than anyone else about Hell - that's because He knew how big this is.

God didn't create you for Hell. He created you to be with Him forever. But it's your choice, and although it kills Him when you reject Him, whatever your choice is - God will honor it. For eternity.

We have to remember how horrible Hell is, in order to remember how wonderful the Resurrection is.

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